RCA PERSPECTIVE ON THE ENVIRONMENT
In 1982 the Christian Action Commission sent a major report to General Synod on “Care for the Earth: Theology and Practice” (MGS 1982, pp. 63-70). In response, General Synod passed several resolutions urging “the vigilant protection of the earth's resources.” The Christian Action Commission report examined Old Testament teachings about the relationship of the people to the land. “God's gift of land to the people of Israel was conditional. It depended upon their living in a way that acknowledged the land to be the Lord's land and themselves to be the Lord's people. Because they chose instead to grasp and possess the land as if it were their own, they lost it....We, too, are called to treat the land as God's gift rather than as our possession.” The report concluded that “humanity was created by God to live in 'shalom' (the Hebrew word for harmony/peace/wholeness/justice) with each other and all creation. While this relationship was broken by the Fall, it is being restored in Christ, who reigns over and is reconciling all creation....The restoration of God's shalom...requires changes in our attitudes, in our values, and in our lives.”
The report drew attention to the loss of farmland, the degradation of soil and air quality, the problem of nuclear waste disposal and the need for the conservation of water and other precious resources. The resolutions passed by General Synod in 1982 included the following:
In 1994 the Office of Social Witness reported to General Synod on continuing environmental problems like the extinction of hundreds of animal species, deforestation, and the greenhouse effect, and urged that “responsible Christian witness in the light of the environmental crisis is becoming increasingly important.” General Synod passed a resolution to “encourage RCA pastors, consistories, and Christian educators to place renewed emphasis on the stewardship of creation in the preaching, teaching and witness ministries of RCA congregations, and further, to encourage RCA congregations to utilize available RCA resources from Reformed Church World Service, the RCA hunger education program, the Office of Social Witness, and the Institute for Development Training” (MGS 1994, pp. 95-96).
(There were major reports to General Synod in 1982 and 1994; the subject was also mentioned in 1995.)